I was told (a long time ago) that our Hakka family Style of Longfist may well have a 'Chaquan' component within it. Certainly, the movements contained in the clip below are similar - or identical in application - but I think our Longfist is older than the arrival of Arabs in China and it is more likely that these Merchants 'borrowed' from our Style rather than the other way around. It is a matter of working-out the logical 'chain of evidence':
This is a Norhern Style historically associated with the 'Hui' Muslims living in China - the descendants of Arab (Turkic) Merchants who stayed in China and married Chinese women around a thousand years ago. I suspect these men (and their descendants) constructed this Style using common Longfist techniques. This variant is termed 'Yanzhou' - which I assume is a geographical location in Shandong. The name may mean 'Investigate' or 'Learned Fist' (perhaps in the context of 'Knowledgeable Boxing') - depending upon how '查' (cha2) is pronounced. When written as '楂' (cha2) - it refers to a 'wooden raft' - perhaps used in 'travelling' and 'trading'! Finally, although I have no evidence of this myself, I was told that 'Cha' might be a Chinese language transliteration of the (Turkic-Mongolian) term 'Khan'.
This is a very rare 'Hui' (Muslim) martial art - developed and practiced within China by descendants of Arab merchants (and travellers) who settled in China around a thousand years ago (and at other times after this date). These men were generally highly respected by the Chinese Authorities and often married Chinese women - altered or changed their surnames to fit-in - and sired 'Chinese' children often brought-up within the Islamic faith. This martial art was developed by three respected Imans serving in the Bozhou (亳州) Mosque of Beijing during the reign of Qing Dynasty Emperor Daoguang (r. 1813-1820) and is comprised of various Chinese martial arts techniques as gathered by Hui people living primarily in the Henan, Anhui, Shandong areas - as well other places:
If I am reading this name correctly (see HERE for more information), this art is emphasising intellectual and physical study (晰 - Xi), a process which builds 'Yang' (阳) energy which represents the 'sun' or 'brightness' (the literal meaning of 'Yang') represented by Allah! As Muslims only practice for self-defence the 'open-hand' or 'palm' (掌 - Zhang) is emphasised over the closed fist. Yin and Yang are developed equally with the inner and outer body being made strong and healthy so that the practitioners can a) pray properly and recite the Holy Qur'an in the Mosques, b) perform wholesome labour properly within society and c) maintain the strength to carry-out charitable work and help others free of charge. As this art builds outer strength for praying and inner strength for recitation - by cultivsting Yin and Yang (using martial techniques derived from at least three other provinces) - it is also known by the name of 'Three Considered Profundities' (三议妙 - San Yi Miao). The art itself must only be used to protect vulnerable individuals (including the practittioner) from attack (or 'insult') within society - but the rules for this are very strict (Halal).
According to the People’s Daily the consensus is that Ma Baoguo is NOT a genuine martial arts ‘Master’ - but rather a highly effective ‘Front Man’ deliberately employing comedic routines – to ‘sell’ (at extortionate prices) made-up (and seemingly ‘random’) movements falsely presented as ‘Ancient’ elements of traditional Chinese martial arts! As numerous unseen individuals and business entities supported Ma Baoguo – he was compelled twice (during 2017 and 2020) to put his health and well-being on the line by ‘sparring’ (full contact) with much younger men despite already being in his mid to late 60s! As can be imagined, since becoming a media sensation the biography of Ma Baoguo is well-known in China! Despite the ‘Official Line’ emanating from within China (and echoed outside of China) stating that Ma Baoguo is ‘fake’, nevertheless, he does possess a martial background (which varies in degrees of legitimacy from ‘possible’ to ‘spurious’) – but which can be substantiated through a mixture of verifiable ‘Personal’ and ‘Public’ Records. This Record maybe summarised as follows:
a) The Ma Family Martial Arts Style is known as the ‘Shandong Ma Family Martial art’ (山东马家功夫 - Shan Dong Ma Jia Gong Fu) and has been passed down as follows:
i) ‘Ma Zhongyi’ (马忠义) taught his son ‘Ma Defeng’ (马德峰).
ii) ‘Ma Defeng’ (马德峰) taught son - Ma Baoguo - from around 7-years of age (during 1959).
iii) ‘Ma Baoguo’ (马保国) has taught his son - ‘Ma Xiaoyang’ (马晓阳).
b) Ma Baoguo served for six-years in a PLA (Shandong) Garrison – stationed between 1970-1976 (where it is likely that he trained in militarised ‘Longfist’ [長拳 - Chang Quan]).
c) Between 1982-1984 - Ma Baoguo (who was aged between 30-32 years old at this time) attended Xi'an University. Here, Ma Baoguo trained under Master Shang Ji (尚济) - a teacher who is universally recognised as a legitimate Xingyiquan (形意拳) practitioner.
d) During 1987, Ma Baoguo met one ‘Guo Daxia’ (郭大侠) of ‘Wudang’ (武当) - a self-proclaimed lineage successor and ‘Great Hero’ of the ‘Wudang’ and ‘Emei’ (峨眉) martial traditions! This person is also known as ‘Guo Shanghai’ (郭升海). Ma Baoguo studied with this teacher – and later became a ‘Disciple’.
e) During the summer of 1997, Ma Baoguo met Wang Changhai (王长海) - the second-generation descendant of Hunyuan (混元) Taiji (太极). Wang Changhai taught martial arts in the local park, and Ma Baoguo is recorded as participating in just ‘their’ (public) Push-Hands Classes. Although Ma Baoguo has claimed that Wang Changhai was his ‘Master’ and transmitted his Style to him - Ma Baoguo is not included amongst the ‘Official’ thirty-nine ‘Inheriting’ Disciples of the (Official) Hunyuan Taiji genealogy.
He was born during 1952 in the Linyi (临沂) area of Northeast China’s Shandong province – but was raised further South - in Central China’s Henan province. His father was ‘Ma Defeng’ (马德峰) - who served in the Eighth Route Army, whilst his grandfather was ‘Ma Zhongyi’ (马忠义) - a bona fide martial artist. The Family Style passed down from ‘Ma Zhongyi’ (马忠义) to his son ‘Ma Defeng’ (马德峰) - was known as ‘Shandong Ma Family Martial art’ (山东马家功夫 - Shan Dong Ma Jia Gong Fu). Ma Baoguo started learning this martial art from his father at around 7-years of age (during 1959). At the end of 1968 (at 16-years old) - Ma Baoguo enrolled in Neixiang County Senior High School (Neixiang No. 1 High School) in Henan Province. During December 1970 (at 18-years old), Ma Baoguo, (who had successfully graduated from high school), joined the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and served in the Shandong Long Island Fortress for six-years (until 1976 – when he was 23-years old). Before the Spring Festival in 1976 (when he was 24-years old), Ma Baoguo married his fiancée - Chen Shumin (陈淑敏) - a good women who worked hard in the countryside. During March 1976, Ma Baoguo was demobilized from the PLA after six-years of Service - returned to Neixiang County. In May, he was assigned to Nanyang City as a worker. Despite the intrigue that developed during his later life, Ma Baoguo did have a youth immersed within martial arts and military study.
A typical narrative suggests that in 2001, Ma Baoguo’s son – Ma Xiaoyang – enrolled to study for an academic Degree (Master of Business Administration) in the UK. Ma Baoguo was required to borrow a very large amount of money to finance this venture, and this created a large family debt. Ma Baoguo travelled to the UK in 2002 to assist his son through teaching Taijiquan to the British people – and it is here (and not in China) - where Ma Baoguo began to find fame and admiration! Between 2002-2007 he attracted thousands of British students all willing to pay for his instruction! This is how Ma Baoguo became very rich and managed to pay-off all his family debt! During February 2004, he founded the "British Hunyuan Taijiquan Association"! This was his first organisation which fed-back into his native China! On the strength of this achievement, during the Summer of 2013, Ma Baoguo, (together with his son - Ma Xiaoyang - and his fellow disciples) co-founded the ‘Hunyuan Xingyi Taiji Gate’ (浑元形意太极门 - Hun Yuan Xing Yi Tai Ji Men) - whilst still claiming a ‘hidden’ transmission from Wang Changhai (王长海) - an assertion that has not yet been convincingly ‘denied’ by the established followers of Wang Changhai. Ma Baoguo describes this organisation as an ‘Advanced’ Internal Chinese Martial Arts School. During the Autumn of 2015, Ma Baoguo assisted his son - Ma Xiaoyang - in founding the ‘Shanghai Hunyuan Martial Arts Temple’ (上海浑元国术馆 - Shang Hai Hun Yuan Guo Shu Guan) - serving as the ‘Honorary’ curator.
On March 12, 2015, the then 64-year-old Ma Baoguo was in the UK once again on a short visit. During this time, he ‘hired’ a local MMA fighter turned-actor – ‘Peter Irving’ - for an hour of work. This involved set-piece photography and video scenes designed to highlight the Style of martial arts Ma Baoguo had developed! There was no fighting or conflict. Later, however, the footage was released on the internet claiming that Ma Baoguo had ‘challenged’ and ‘defeated’ an MMA European Champion! (There were also further spurious claims of another British fighter being defeated - supposedly later the same day).
In 2017, the 65-year-old Ma Baoguo appeared in the public eye (in China) for the first time, He achieved this feat by agreeing to ‘fight’ the 37-year-old MMA fighter - Xu Xiaodong (徐晓冬) in Shanghai on June 26th! However, as the fight was about to start, the Police arrived and stated the venue was not suitable for such an event and that everyone was to peacefully leave! Many accused Xu Xiaodong of only agreeing to fight ‘old’ men and never anyone who could genuinely challenge him. The interest surrounding this intended event attracted thousands of people to the cause of Ma Baoguo and assisted in the boosting of his business interests! Meanwhile, Ma Baoguo implied that he had ‘won’ the 2017 fight by using ‘hidden’ spiritual powers that manipulated physical matter and took away Xu Xiaodong’s ability to fight – whilst rumours surfaced that in fact Ma Baoguo had ordered his nephew (‘Ma Bin’ - 马斌) to telephone the Police and ‘Report’ the venue for safety failings (the intercepted text is believed to have read ‘Quick - tell the Police before he kills me’)! Ma Baoguo denied this allegation – stating that he did not have a nephew named “Ma Bin”!
This all fed into in Ma Baoguo’s clash with the 49-year-old ‘Wang Qingmin’ (王庆民) - a ‘folk martial artist’ (in fact, this former PLA soldier is an expert in Xingyiquan) - which occurred on May 17th, 2020, in the Zibo area of Shandong (although neither participant received any payment for taking part). This fight lasted no longer than 30 seconds and involved a 68-year-old Ma Baoguo being knocked-down three times by series of straight right punches landed by Wang Qingmin! Throughout the contest Wang Qingmin was ‘orthodox’ (with his left-hand and left-foot always forward) - whilst Ma Baoguo fought exclusively in ‘south-paw’ - with his right-hand and right-foot forward! This left Ma Baoguo continuously ‘open’ to Wang Qingmin’s straight-right' - which Ma Baoguo was unable to defend against! The first punch knocked Ma Baoguo’s head around four to six inches ‘backward’ from the vertical position and probably did all the damage – irreparably jarring the brain (in fact, these blows were two straight punches landed in quick succession). Momentum was added to Wang Qingmin’s blows by Ma Baoguo moving forward and slightly to his left (running on to the punches). ft It is remarkable that this 68-year-old man - ‘fake’ or not - managed to get straight to his feet to continue (with no ‘Ten’ count being administered at any point during the contest – although this might have been due to Ma Baoguo getting-up too quickly). In an attempt to avoid this straight-right – Ma Baoguo attempted to move backwards and to his right.
However, as he was unable to move quickly enough, Wang Qingmin stepped into the empty space created (covering more ground) – landing a type of ‘sling-shotting’ (single) straight-right that was partially blocked by Ma Baoguo’s raised left-arm – but which still landed to the side of Ma Baoguo’s face. This set of combined movements effectively ‘knocked’ Ma Baoguo head and pelvic girdle quicker to his right than his legs could carry him (fatally altering his centre of balance) – and he fell once again (although I suspect his legs were still not working properly following the first knock-down). Yet again Ma Baoguo got to his feet – although by now he was looking very much like the old man he was. As there was nothing coming back from Ma Baoguo – Wang Qingmin had been allowed to establish the habit of ‘walking forward’ with virtually no guard – and this is exactly what he kept on doing. Ma Baoguo, on the other hand, continued to circle to his right – and it is at this point in the fight that the only kicks were thrown. As Ma Baoguo is ‘double-weighted’ (a habit seen in all beginners which causes a cognitive ‘delay’ between ‘preparing’ the body to throw a kick – and ‘actually’ throwing the kick) - he launches a front (heel) kick off his right-lag – but he does this by momentarily placing his left-leg forward (presumably in an attempt to gain momentum), a desperate move which missed its target (again, even taking into account his poor technique, I suspect his legs were not working properly following the accumulative effects of the knockdowns).
Interestingly, Wang Qingmin appeared to block this attack by ‘kicking’ Ma Baoguo’s attacking kick with a right front (heel) kick of his own (thrown off his reverse-leg). Wang Qingmin then momentarily lands in a ‘southpaw’ stance (the only time he would do this during the entire contest) - simultaneously throwing a straight-right jab (which landed flush to Ma Baoguo’s chin). As Wang Qingmin is uncomfortable fighting in ‘southpaw’ - he immediately switched to his usual ‘orthodox’ stance – throwing yet another (reverse) straight-right punch which also landed flush on Mao Baoguo’s chin! Ma Baoguo absorbs the first ‘jab’ apparently unscathed – but as soon as the second punch lands (the two punches are about one-second apart) - his stunned and traumatised brain ‘switches-off’ all voluntary control of his body and he falls unconscious to the ground. Official and Medical personnel rush to the aid of the now supine Ma Baoguo – concerned that he may be seriously hurt. He remained unconscious for two-minutes.
Chinese Language Sources:
Translator’s Note: The antics of Master Ba Baoguo has been unfolding since around 2002 – and it has done so in both the UK and China! Although he has served in the PLA and has had genuine martial arts training experience – in his later years he developed a very controversial business persona that has been lucrative and very successful (mimicking as it does – its Western fighting ‘hype’ counterpart). His fame began not in China, but between 2002-2007 when he lived in the UK and attracted hundreds of Western people to his particular brand of martial arts! He then exported this business success back to China where his fame spread on the internet (which I shall write about in a subsequent article). Of course, it goes without saying that I reject all attempts to ‘racialise’ this subject and that I believe in the legal notion of being innocent until proven guilty. I do not know Ma Baoguo and have never met him, but I think that both sides of an argument must be fully aired if the notion of freedom of thought is to be maintained. What follows is my English language translation of the original Chinese language article that appeared in the People’s Daily during 2020 – just after a 68-year-old Ma Baoguo was knocked out by a much younger man in China – following a ‘filmed’ challenge match! (Indeed, watching this ‘match’ on video-sharing platform Bili Bili was the first time I had encountered Ma Baoguo and I was curious to investigate the background to this martial madness)! ACW (15.11.2022)
Ma Baoguo - who calls himself a ‘Master’ and ‘Inheritor’ of the ‘Hunyuan’ (浑元) ‘Xingyi’ (形意) Taijiquan (太极拳 ) tradition - has become famous today. It is said that his ‘achievements’ in ‘martial arts’ have become respected worldwide - but recently his thunderous words have been popularized – and the circus that now surrounds him has become known as the ‘Ma Baoguo phenomenon’!
From becoming popular in the UK and then on the Internet in China - to participating in commercial performances and then filming so-called inspirational films – the Ma Baoguo ‘brand’ has garnered considerable commercial success!
Some of the words and deeds used by Ma Baoguo (and his surrounding ‘team’), however, are nothing other than fake grandstanding and theatrical bluffing. In the final analysis – his entire performance is nothing but a farce. Although Ma Baoguo continuously states that he is promoting traditional martial arts, in fact his antics are only hurting the traditional martial arts he claims to uphold! Ma Baoguo often rebukes young people for not caring about traditional martial arts - but he himself often acts with no integrity – and does not produce any words or deeds that demonstrate ‘respect’ for traditional martial arts!
The series of farces surrounding Ma Baoguo are ‘funny’ (acknowledging that there is a certain ‘comedic’ element to his show business) - but with regard to the reputation of traditional Chinese martial arts - ‘laughing’ is simply not good enough! If an individual relies upon grandstanding, then popularity may well follow, with an expansion of business territory achieved through cheating and deceiving! This is not an acceptable attitude to take within China! What kind of moral values is this approach advocating? What do the people behind Ma Baoguo intend to achieve?
Anyone with a discerning eye knows that all that Ma Baoguo does is designed for nothing more than commercial interests. A number of internet platforms support Ma Baoguo because he is popular, and his activities generate a high frequency of traffic! This is the primary commercial value to Ma Baoguo’s antics. Of course, in the background there are often ‘hidden’ commercial interests that reward people like Ma Baoguo with large sums of money – even when it involves direct threats to his health (as suggested by him voluntarily submitting to being knocked unconscious by a younger man when aged 68-years old)!
Whatever the reasons, this type of cultural corruption is not to be permitted within modern China. Whilst making an honest living is perfectly acceptable – pursuing a path which corrupts and damages Chinese culture - is not! Chinese culture cannot function correctly if such ideas are allowed to proliferate!
Everyone has the right to practice martial arts and express their own opinions and ideas - but if they deviate from the true spirit of Chinese martial arts and attempt to deceive the public - then such people are no different from liars. Chinese society should not tolerate such behaviour and must encourage the exact opposite! Ma Baoguo can think what he wants about Chinese martial arts – but his financial exploitation of the public must stop, and he must not allow pointless threats to his health just to accumulate more profit!
Chinese Language Sources:
《 文摘报 》（ 2020年12月03日 01 版）
Shifu Adrian Chan-Wyles (b. 1967) - Lineage (Generational) Inheritor of the Ch'an Dao Hakka Gongfu System.